Skilled Lao labourers return to jobs in Thailand

A worker at a car wash sprays disinfectant inside a car in the Pin Klao area of Bangkok, while alcohol gel is given free of charge to people at the Bang Chak petrol station on Sukhaphiban 1 Road. photos by Arnun Chonmahatrakool and Varuth Hirunyatheb. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

VIENTIANE, Feb 2, 2022, The Nation. Statistics from the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare indicate that more than 246,000 workers have returned to Laos from Thailand since the start of the pandemic when large numbers of people were laid off, with about 150,000 people having returned to Thailand last year, The Nation reported.

Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Welfare, Mr Phongsaisack Intharath, said more than 50 percent of returning workers had now returned to their jobs in Thailand.

Most of them are skilled and they can earn more money in Thailand, where the minimum wage is higher than in Laos.

Employers in Thailand have an increasing need for skilled workers and offer decent wages, whereas companies in Laos are still suffering from a shortage of workers.

There is a lack of accurate data around the situation which has given rise to issues such as informality in the recruitment process and a lack of employment protection. At the same time there is a lack of job market indicators on employment opportunities and unemployment, Mr Phongsaisack said.

“We think the provision of job information centres will play a key role in enabling authorities to help workers in need of assistance,” he added.

People can register at provincial assistance centres so they can get help from the government.

Lao workers who return home to register with the authorities must get work permits and passports from labour officials so they can legally work in Thailand.

The new centres will enable labour market analysis, act as a base for monitoring and reporting on employment and labour policies, and promote the development of job skills, according to a ministry official.

The centres will also allow sharing of information and coordination between the different actors and institutions that produce and utilise labour market information and analysis.

The government has identified certain large-scale development projects in Laos that can benefit from an influx of skilled workers.

These include the Amata Smart & Eco-City in Luang Namtha and Oudomxay provinces, the new international airport in Bokeo, a giant Buddha image under construction at That Luang Marsh, and an infrastructure development project in the Golden Triangle, according to the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare.

The government says it will encourage at least 700 companies to invest in Special Economic Zones over the next five years, saying these companies could create over 130,000 jobs.

By Phetphoxay Sengpaseuth

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